This book reinforces a focus on student learning by demonstrating ways of addressing the Common Core State Standards in grades 9-12 while also adhering to NCTE principles of effective teaching.

View additional resources on the companion website.


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Sarah Brown Wessling—the 2010 National Teacher of the Year—and fellow high school teachers demonstrate how to address the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in grades 9–12 while staying true to what they—and you—know about effective, student-centered teaching.

The book begins with an overview of key features of the CCSS, addressing some of the most common questions they raise. Section II moves into individual classrooms, offering snapshots of instruction, showing teachers collaborating and making careful decisions about what will work best for their students, and focusing on formative assessment. Drawing on such diverse texts as Macbeth, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, speeches by Barack Obama, graphic novels, and Star Wars, this section also includes charts showing how the CCSS align with established NCTE principles of effective teaching.

Section III offers suggestions for professional development, both for individuals and for communities of practice. This section recognizes that effective change requires long-term planning as well as collaboration among colleagues, and it offers strategies and materials for planning units of study, articulating grade-level expectations, and mapping yearlong instruction. And throughout the book, icons point you to additional resources and opportunities for interacting with other teachers on a companion website.

“It is our hope that these teaching and learning vignettes and the corresponding materials will serve as a reflection of the language of learning that already fills your classrooms, and that they will demonstrate a framework that allows thinking about not just what we do, but why we do it. We hope they will remind us that in the layers of local, state, and national values, the greatest intentionality comes from the classroom teacher who enters the complexity and emerges with a process that honors the learning in our classrooms. We invite you to step into these classrooms, reflect on them, and use their successes and challenges to further your own thinking about what bridges you can build between the CCSS and your own instruction.”—Sarah Brown Wessling